Series Preview #29: Cleveland Indians (42-46) at Cincinnati Reds (39-47)

Welcome back, baseball. The last couple of days were lacking without you.

The second half gets underway around the league on Friday, as the Cleveland Indians head south to Cincinnati for their second Interleague battle of the season against the Reds.

For the Indians (42-46), the first half left something to be desired. Despite what could be considered a strong starting pitching effort for the most part, the offense has left their rotation mates hanging out to dry with the inconsistent run support it has provided.

With a chance to get back to even, they lost two of three to the Oakland A’s to wrap up the first half. They won a 5-1 decision on Friday night, powered by a four-run sixth inning. They could not prevent the response run on Saturday night, as solo runs from Cleveland in the sixth and seventh were countered by four combined in the seventh and eighth as the A’s won, 5-4. All-Star Sonny Gray limited the Tribe to just two hits in a 2-0 complete game shutout to close out play before the All-Star break.

The Reds (39-47) have been a disappointment as well this season. A roster loaded with high powered and highly paid veterans has failed to compete as well as their salaries would dictate. Now, with two weeks to go until the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline, the Cincinnati front office has a tough decision to make on players like Johnny Cueto, who is in his walk year and likely outside of what the Reds are willing to spend on a player after large contracts tendered to Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips and Homer Bailey has $48 million worth of payroll tied up in four players this season and $63.5 for next season.

The struggling Reds dropped three of four in Miami against the Marlins to wrap up their first half. They responded to a 2-0 loss on Thursday with a 1-0 four-hitter on Friday. The Marlins erased all doubt with each of the next two games, winning 14-3 and 8-1 in the weekend games to accumulate a 24-5 scoring advantage in the four games.


Friday, 7/17, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Trevor Bauer (8-5, 3.76 ERA) vs. RHP Mike Leake (6-5, 4.08)

Bauer will look to expand on his career high eight wins in the opener on Friday. He is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in three career starts at Great American Ball Park, but is 5-2 this season on the road with a 1.82 ERA in eight games. Leake, in his sixth season with the Reds, is 1-1 in his career against Cleveland with a 4.40 ERA in five starts. His numbers are inflated at home, where in nine starts he is 2-3 with a 5.92 ERA and 1.67 WHIP.

Saturday, 7/18, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Corey Kluber (4-10, 3.38) vs. RHP Anthony DeSclafani (5-6, 3.65)

Kluber will look for some run support on the mound on Saturday night in a nationally televised game as he makes his first career start in Cincinnati. Kluber has won each of his two career starts against the Reds with a 1.17 ERA. He is 9-1 in ten career Interleague starts with a 1.69 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. DeSclafani was scratched from his last scheduled start on July 11th as a precaution while the pitcher dealt with a gluteal strain. He limited the Tribe to one run on three hits in seven innings of work in a no-decision on May 23rd.

Sunday, 7/19, 1:10 PM ET – RHP Carlos Carrasco (10-7, 4.07) vs. RHP Johnny Cueto (6-6, 2.73)

Like Kluber, Carrasco will be making his first career start in Cincinnati and his fourth appearance against the club overall in his career. In his previous outings, including a pair of starts, he is 2-0 with a 5.06 ERA. Like Bauer, he has excelled on the road, posting a 6-2 record in eight starts with a 3.29 ERA. Cueto is in his eighth season in the Reds rotation and is coming off of his first 20-win season in 2014. He is a perfect 4-0 in six career starts against Cleveland, including a 2.08 ERA, a 0.95 WHIP, and two complete games. He threw a four-hit shutout in his last start before the All-Star break while attempting to make the All-Star team as one of the five NL final vote candidates.


Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and Fox Sports Ohio (in the Reds market) will handle the first and third games of the series, with Fox Sports 1 airing Saturday’s evening start.

Radio calls will be provided by your local affiliate of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network or your Reds on Radio Network affiliates.


TEAM                    W-L                        PCT.                       GB                          WCGB                   STREAK
Kansas City         52-34                     .605                        –                              –                              W1
Minnesota          49-40                     .551                        4.5                          +1                           W3
Detroit                 44-44                     .500                        9.0                          3.5                          L3
Cleveland            42-46                     .477                        11.0                        5.5                          L2
Chicago                41-45                     .477                        11.0                        5.5                          L1


Cleveland is just 18-25 when playing in Cincinnati. A strong 30-19 showing at home has led to a 48-44 lead for the Indians in the all-time series between the two clubs since the advent of Interleague play.

The Indians expanded on that solid home record with a three-game sweep of the Reds when they visited Progressive Field earlier in the season. The Tribe outscored their cross-state rivals, 14-6, with Carrasco, Kluber, and Bauer all earning wins.


Mike Aviles (UTL) – activated from the Family Emergency list
Gavin Floyd (SP) – 60-day disabled list (March 16) – right elbow surgery
Nick Hagadone (RP) – 15-day disabled list (July 8) – lower back strain; injured left elbow in rehab appearance July 15
Jose Ramirez (UTL) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (July 16)
Nick Swisher (DH) – 15-day disabled list (June 14) – left knee inflammation; may begin rehab next week
Josh Tomlin (P) – 60-day disabled list (April 5) – right shoulder surgery; has begun rehab assignment

Homer Bailey (SP) – 60-day disabled list (April 29) – recovery from May 2015 Tommy John surgery
Tony Cingrani (P) – 15-day disabled list (June 14) – left shoulder strain
Carlos Contreras (RP) – optioned to Triple-A Louisville (July 17)
Zack Cozart (SS) – 60-day disabled list (June 16) – recovery from June 2015 right knee surgery
Jumbo Diaz (RP) – recalled from Triple-A Louisville (July 17)
Donovan Hand (RP) – outrighted to Triple-A Louisville (July 16)
Sean Marshall (RP) – 60-day disabled list (March 27) – recovery from May 2015 shoulder surgery
Devin Mesoraco (C) – 15-day disabled list (May 21) – recovery from June 2015 left hip impingement surgery
Jon Moscot (P) – 60-day disabled list (June 28) – left shoulder dislocation


Despite a 7-5 record, the Indians are hitting an American League-worst .219 in Interleague play. A league-high 55 walks gives them the seventh-best on-base percentage (.325) in the league in those games. They have scored the fewest runs (38) and hit the fewest home runs (4) in the AL in Interleague action.

The Reds, by comparison, have scored 53 runs and hit .258, but are 5-9 and have been outscored by 15 runs.

The Indians pitching staff is near the top of the league, when facing the NL, in batting average allowed (third-best at .222), WHIP (second at 1.06), and ERA (fifth at 2.89). Only the Los Angeles Dodgers (10.16 K/9) and Chicago White Sox (9.61 K/9) have averaged more strikeouts per nine innings than the Indians (9.51 K/9) in Interleague play.

The Reds pitching staff has struggled at home, emphasized with the club’s rank in the bottom third of all major pitching statistics in the NL, including ERA (4.33), earned runs allowed (178), homers allowed (46), walks (135), strikeouts (333), batting average allowed (.254), and WHIP (1.33).

The Reds have struck out just 272 times this season, fifth-fewest in all of baseball. Indians pitching, by comparison, has struck out 392 batters, the fourth-most in all of baseball and second highest in the American League.


Current Reds third base coach Jim Riggleman held the same role during his season with the Cleveland Indians in 2000 while a member of Charlie Manuel’s coaching staff.

Riggleman played minor league ball, but never reached the Majors as a player. After coaching in the minors after his playing days, he reached the Majors as a first base coach in St. Louis before taking over at the helm of the San Diego Padres. Following the strike, he was manager of the Chicago Cubs until 1999. He joined Manuel’s staff in 2000 before moving along to Los Angeles to be the Dodgers bench coach from 2001 to 2004.

After returning to St. Louis as a minor league instructor, he returned to the Bigs as Seattle’s bench coach, ultimately leading the team when manager John McLaren was relieved of his duties. After moving to Washington the following season, he started as bench coach for Manny Acta, only to replace him the same way he did McLaren when Acta was fired at the All-Star break. He would resign his post with the Nationals in a dispute with their GM Mike Rizzo and worked as a special assignment scout with the San Francisco Giants before joining the Reds, managing their minor league clubs for three seasons before joining the parent club this season.


The Indians will continue their Interleague play with a quick stop in Milwaukee, where they will play two against the Brewers at Miller Park, once on Tuesday night and immediately the next afternoon, before returning home for seven straight in the division. The Reds will stay put, hosting the Chicago Cubs for four straight beginning Monday night.

Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

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